Apollo Lee 52 Tracks in 52 Weeks

Rings of Endeavor

Title: Apollo Lee – Rings of Endeavor
Date: November 11, 2011
Software: Ableton Suite 8
Genre: House
Timing: 7:08 @ 121 bpm

Rings of Endeavor celebrates binary day with a nice mellow groove. We start with a dance around the minor seventh stabs, joined by the drum line and an off-beat bass line. This track was originally written at 128 bpm, but it felt so nice at 121. A quirky rhythmic synthesizer comes in and spices up the top end. A slow arpeggio sneaks in underneath.

In the middle, we meet a new pad, ringing through once per measure. At first, it hangs out by itself until a few friends from earlier say hello and join in. Near the end, everyone mingles, the original chords come back and we’re just nodding our heads to the groove as the overtones spin around up in the sky.

Specters at the Door

Title: Apollo Lee – Specters at the Door
Date: October 31, 2011
Software: Ableton Suite 8
Genre: House
Timing: 6:50 @ 125 bpm

Specters at the Door, the first track I’ve finished in my studio since Analog Dragons five weeks ago, speaks of two types of specters — tykes in costumes, stalking my neighborhood for candy, and the specter of excuses, stalking my psyche to sap my productivity and time.

We’re at a nice mellow 125 beats per minute on this crisp Halloween night, scratching a track for October out while there’s still time to avoid leaving a hole in the calendar. We begin with some four-on-the-floor percussion, anchored by a bass instrument that started out as a dulcimer. A bouncing lead line sneaks in and soon plays hide-and-seek with a warm analog pad in C minor.

After the first build, we slide into another lead, which tumbles down the chord and splashes into a C minor 9 at the bottom. A big spooky gong rings out in the dark. Just after the second build, we let the leads swap chord partners and dance until they all join together at the end.

I only just noticed that this is the tenth new song of the year. On Thursday, I’m going to see how this mixes into a Digeum mix. I hope you liked it.

Analog Dragons

Title: Apollo Lee – Analog Dragons
Date: September 22, 2011
Software: Ableton Suite 8
Genre: House
Timing: 6:50 @ 124 bpm

Analog Dragons breathes fire into the end of summer, celebrating the warmest days of the year after a cool season that almost seemed like spring had been extended to fall. This jaunty little tune started out at a much higher tempo, but felt very rushed.

A syncopated bouncing high snare line, filtered to smithereens, jumps right in after a slightly awry hi-hat and lower snare. A plucky chord drips from somewhere. The metallic melody rings through the opening, joined by a longer pulsing organ-like chord. A bouncing rhythm highlights the root and ninth, all over a double-headed bassline, breathing fire from below.

Most of the sounds I’m using here were sampled from analog synthesizers from the 1980s and early 1990s. We’re in G minor here. It feels really nice at 124 beats per minute. I hope you like it.

Amorphous Conversations

Title: Apollo Lee – Amorphous Conversations
Date: September 8, 2011
Software: Ableton Suite 8
Genre: House
Timing: 6:38 @ 128 bpm

Amorphous Conversations is a reminiscence of times past, from the foundation to the shingles. I recently acquired a large collection of sounds sampled from old analog synthesizers and, other than the percussion, all of the sounds here come from that collection.

With a kick/snare/clap percussion line that harkens back two decades, a double bass line, including a punchy modified 303-esque instrument, rumbles in the basement. Splashy chords and stabs punctuate the music and two melody lines vie for a little slice of the mix. A strange ethereal build adds some chaos to the room before fluttering out into the sky.

Patterns in the Shed

Title: Apollo Lee – Patterns in the Shed
Date: September 1, 2011
Software: Ableton Suite 8
Genre: House
Timing: 6:47 @ 125 bpm

Patterns in the Shed is a celebration of freedom, the excitement of drafting new plans and incorporating action steps into what’s next. A pulsing metallic beacon emerges from the drums and welcomes a like-minded organ.

After the first build, a playfully bouncing lead coaxes a shy glassy arpeggio into the party. In the third act, they’re both joined by an off-kilter chord that seems to want to bump into everybody, throwing harmonics all over the playground. Bring it on, bumpy.

This sucked me in very quickly and, before I knew it, hours had gone by. May this song find you nodding along in good spirits.

Gyrating Continuum

Title: Apollo Lee – Gyrating Continuum
Date: August 25, 2011
Software: Ableton Suite 8
Genre: House
Timing: 6:38 @ 128 bpm

Gyrating Continuum is a quick and dirty journey that capped off a tough Thursday. Here, we’ve got a meaty, rumbly bassline, comprised of two bass instruments, one of which plays a crazy syncopated three-against-sixteen pattern. A staccato stab joins the fray in short order, punching a counter rhythm in E minor, and an arpeggiated chord fluttering around in the background.

After the first build, a big strong lead comes in, coopts our arpeggio as an echo, before learning more patience toward the end. After our big breakdown, we’re joined by a quirky rhythmic synthesizer with all kinds of crazy odds and ends in in.

I had a lot of fun making this tune. I hope you like it.

Reductio Ad Absurdum

Title: Apollo Lee – Reductio Ad Absurdum
Date: August 17, 2011
Software: Ableton Suite 8
Genre: House
Timing: 6:44 @ 126 bpm

Reductio Ad Absurdum is a rhythmic experiment, using Euclidean rhythms, named for the logical fallacy. In this piece of music, there are four instruments on such rhythms: two stabs, a plucked string instrument, and a bass. I used sixteen-based patterns and generated a Euclidean rhythm for 3, 5, and 7 (and 10 for part of the bassline).

Some of these repeating patterns rub against each other in very interesting ways. Drums start us out, followed closely by a layered bassline that utilizes the Euclidean Ten while a subby boom anchors it. Three wanders in next, a Cm9 chord bouncing around. Five joins the song before the first build, punctuating the texture with a sharp staccato morphed by a filter.

Later, Seven, a twangy pluck, dances around on the chord tones of C minor to complete the ensemble. The whole thing gels together nicely. It could be because all the instruments are in odd rhythms, except the bass.

I enjoyed playing with these musical ideas. I hope you enjoy the track.

Squalid Euphoria in a Petri Dish

Title: Apollo Lee – Squalid Euphoria in a Petri Dish
Date: August 14, 2011
Software: Ableton Suite 8, Reason 5
Genre: House
Timing: 6:41 @ 127 bpm

Squalid Euphoria in a Petri Dish starts out with a scratchy stab over a four-on-the-floor drum line. A resonated chord pattern rolls in to play along, joined shortly by a filthy distorted bassline. Contrasting filtered stab chords bounce around and bring the track together through the ebb and flow of sweeping buildups.

I started this track last weekend, when demonstrating some Ableton techniques to some out-of-town visitors. Tonight, I got the sound in my head, mixed it down, and contemplated an arrangement. After a couple of false starts, I played this version on a balcony in San Francisco as the sun set.

I really hope you enjoy this tune.

Old Secondhand Diamonds

Title: Apollo Lee – Old Secondhand Diamonds
Date: August 8, 2011
Software: Ableton Suite 8
Genre: House
Timing: 6:32 @ 125 bpm

Old Secondhand Diamonds kicks off August with an introspective little groove that features a funky bassline, a reverse buildup chord, and a crystalline lead that winds in and out of the texture.

I initially created the stub of this track on a futon in San Francisco at the end of July, using ninety minutes before dinner to capture an idea or two. On August 8, I played around with a few instruments, added some processing and automation, and played out a version with my APC40.

There are a number of things I really like about this track — the way the chords dance around each other, how the swelling reverse chord drops into its reverb trail and echo artifacts. A few other things, I’ll work on refining over the next few sessions, particularly mixing it down and cleaning up the incredibly boomy bass.

Overall, I’m happy with the progress I’ve made so far on this tune. What do you think?

Walk in the Dark

Title: Apollo Lee – Walk in the Dark
Date: July 22, 2011
Software: Ableton Suite 8
Genre: House
Timing: 6:50 @ 124 bpm

Walk in the Dark is quirky tech house groove that brings a simple step and layers it with diverse elements. We start with a three-chord piano motif, chased by a punchy three-note stab. We wait for nearly a minute before we invite the drums in to join our walk. The minimal bassline gives a bottom to our trek and, soon, a shifting high lead and sweeping metallic pads add to the texture.

My two-hour session went long this evening and I decided to arrange this out, just to get a feel for this new groove. I’m in the key of A minor tonight and, after a brief mixdown, keep playing it through to tweak a processor here, an automation there.

I hope you enjoy this hearing this track as much as I enjoyed making it. Thanks for listening.

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